Image Credit: Supplied

A staple in many food larders, basmati rice can be easily located on supermarket shelves. But do you know that there are multiple varieties of basmati rice and that each has its own pluses and minuses?

To know how we end up with so many varieties – and what makes a basmati grain perfect – we need to understand their farm-to-plate journey. This allows us to choose the right basmati next time we are out shopping.

Firstly, like many fine foods, rice is all about ageing. Aged rice will be more aromatic, tasty and will cook well. The age of rice is often found on the pack, mentioned as the crop year. Tilda, the first brand to introduce basmati rice to the modern retail world 50 years ago, recommends that you aim for two-year-old rice. Needless to say, it follows the same guideline when it comes to its products.

Three main features

Basmati is known for its long length, aroma and flavour. These three characteristics are essential for rice to qualify as basmati. However, the question is do all basmati rice in the market have these qualities. And why would any basmati lack any of these?

The truth is that since rice is all about ageing, it can be a nemesis for a lot of brands. Ageing is a time-consuming and expensive process – something that brands like Tilda never compromise on. The only way to reduce time to market is by artificially ageing the rice and taking it through a partial boiling process, resulting in what is referred to as sella basmati. Despite being a genuine basmati grain, it loses its taste and aroma during the process. An easy way to identify parboiled rice is through its translucent/brownish colour. Less aged and sold at a cheaper price, this rice lacks all the goodness of basmati.

Another method to make rice ready for sale earlier than it should be is steaming, which presents pale, brown-coloured basmati - do not confuse this with brown basmati, which is a different state of the grain. Steamed basmati is hard as a result of light or heavy steaming. This has its pros and cons, but the biggest disadvantage is that it loses its taste profile and you end up eating something that will only showcase the taste of your spices.

Remember, the whiter the colour of the grain, the more aromatic and tastier your basmati would be. It is easy to chew and also lighter on your stomach. The sella/steamed basmati is always harder to chew and will undoubtedly feel heavier on stomach. That’s why you should have a look at the grains before you buy. Always opt for the whitest basmati when you cook rice as the main dish with curries – where you need rice to lend all the flavour and aroma.

Image Credit: Supplied

For one-pot dishes such as biryani and kabsa, the Arab mixed rice dish, you can choose white basmati or opt for steamed variants as the emphasis is on the appearance of the rice and the taste depends more on the spices being used. Sella is least recommended for home cooking as it is harder to cook and doesn’t offer the best in terms of flavour.

How to cook basmati rice
Tilda recommends the following to ensure the best cooking results.

- Prepare by measuring the correct quantity. Tilda suggests that 60g of raw rice is usually enough per person.
- Once you measure the rice, wash it three to four times before cooking.
- To cook, place one cup of rice with two cups of boiling water and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Drain the water and let it stand (or simmer) for three to four minutes more. Lightly fork through the grains and serve.

In today’s busy world, the way basmati rice is consumed is also changing. Brands like Tilda have introduced Ready-to-heat basmati rice, which is an innovation that allows consumers to buy 90 per cent cooked rice with no preservatives or artificial additives and a shelf life of 18 months. These vacuum-sealed packs can be heated up in a microwave oven or hot pan for two minutes without adding any water. Packs come in different flavourful varieties as well such as Tilda’s coconut or pilau basmati, which can be consumed as a meal on their own.

Whichever flavour or type you choose, basmati rice is a staple food consumed worldwide by many of us multiple times a week, if not daily. So, it’s essential not to compromise on the quality of your rice and opt for the best. Buy Tilda’s White Basmati rice to ensure a pure and original basmati experience.

And, don’t forget basmati rice has many health benefits. Rich in fibre and vitamins and low in fat, it has a low glycaemic index as well. So next time you stop at the supermarket, make sure to stock up on Tilda basmati rice.

Image Credit: Supplied
True or false?
Tilda busts some myths about basmati rice.

Soaking basmati rice for 30 minutes before cooking allows for a shorter cooking time.

False: Soaking marginally improves cooking time, but you lose time even before you start. If you opt for white basmati rice from Tilda, you may not need to soak the rice at all - you can start right after washing it 2-3 times.

The longer the grain of rice, the better it is.

False: All basmati grains are long. The extra-long grain is just millimetres longer than the traditional basmati.

Rice never expires.

True. Rice doesn’t expire, but you should check the rice. This way, you can figure out if the grains are broken or intact.

All basmati rice is the same.

False: There are different grains and different stages and processes that rice goes through before being packed. All of these make the end-user experience change drastically and different.

To learn more about the various types of basmati rice, visit